Soma Fabrications Grand Randonneur v. 2 Build Review

Beautiful, isn’t it? 

But what a pain in the ass. The reason constructeurs built all of their own components was out of necessity, not vanity. I think I have enough spares to build a whole other bike. 

To spare you my agony, here’s what worked:

  • Wheels: Velocity Synergy, laced to a Campagnolo Veloce rear and an SP dyno hub. 
  • Soma GR green label 650Bx42mm tires – these are light, supple, and sweet. So far, they’ve been durable enough. I almost exclusively ride on gravel. 
  • Drivetrain: IRD Elite 11-34 Campagnolo cassette, KMC X10SL chain, Record 10sp ultra shifters, Record long cage rear derailleur, Shimano CX70 front derailleur, and a Shimano CX50 crankset with 46/34 rings. This Shimagnolo setup is fucking toight!
  • Paul neo retro cantis
  • Velo Orange Hammered 50mm fenders. Go find some 52mm Zeppelins instead. 
  • Nitto Dynamic stem and 46cm Soma 26mm Hiway One bars. 
  • Nitto Campee front rack, you want this…
  • Swift Industries Hinterland Ozette small rando bag. For a 58cm frame, get the large. 
  • SON hanging Edelux II headlight, Spanninga fender-mounted tailight. 
  • Thomson Elite seatpost and Brooks C17 Cambium Carved saddle. 
  • Giles Berthoud V-90 decaleur. 
  • Miche roller bearing headset. 

Things that didn’t work so well:

  • The roller headsets are stiff, and still shimmy. I’d prolly just get a Chris King or a Campagnolo next time. 
  • Velo Orange Rando crank – don’t waste your time on this piece of shit, it ruined my Land Run 100 event by failing two miles from the start. The pedal threads pulled out of the left side crank arm. Total garbage.
  • Velo Orange Quick Release skewers – more garbage from our friends in MD. My rear skewer fell apart after about 150 miles, and nearly left me stranded. I was only able to make it home because the frame has vertical dropouts, and I stayed seated for 16 miles. 
  • KMC X10 SL chain – lovely, but the cutout side plates love to collect mud and shit. Only for dry gravel and pavement. 
  • Velo Orange Pass Hunter rack – it doesnt fit the frame (this one was my fault, and is no way related to the substandard quality of VO components). 
  • Velo Orange 1″ stem mounted decaleur – couldn’t make it work with my canti hanger, my stem, or my brakes. 
  • Generally, the whole brakes-hanger-decaleur-rack-fender  thing is an interdependency fucking nightmare that will make you weep. 

I wanted to make a beautiful bike that rode well for miles and miles. I seem to have done that, but the bill included about 50% parts overages due to fit and failure issues. 

If I were to do it over again, my solution to the whole brake-rack-hanger-fender fuckup would be to go with Tektro cantis and a canti boss mounted VO Pass Hunter rack with integrated decaleur. It would have saved me about $500 and weeks of delay and aggravation. 

But, I just had to have those Paul brakes…

7 thoughts on “Soma Fabrications Grand Randonneur v. 2 Build Review

  1. jrs11 July 17, 2020 / 1:55 pm

    If I were to get one I would build it up with Suntour parts I have on another bike and a TA Zephyr crankset. Would this be a good bike for everyday use, maybe 10-15 miles, nothing loaded?


  2. jrs11 July 17, 2020 / 1:58 pm

    How does it ride without a load up front? I would build it with Suntour parts, TA Zephyr crank, Velocity wheels with Baby Shoe Pass 42mm tires.


    • call me Bronco July 17, 2020 / 2:14 pm

      Personally, I didn’t like the ride. I’m a heavy rider (225 lbs) and felt the bike rode too whippy or flexed too much. I wound up cannibalizing this bike for parts and eventually giving all or nearly all of it away to friends for their projects. Recently I built a Velo Orange Polyvalent frame up that I think rides far superior to this bike.


      • jrs11 July 17, 2020 / 2:19 pm

        Thank you. I use an upright bar and while I am not entirely upright stability is a big deal for this lightweight rider.


  3. call me Bronco July 17, 2020 / 2:21 pm

    I would really look hard at the Velo Orange Polyvalent. I am very happy with it.


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